Well it’s about darned time.
The 2007-2008 college hockey season is back in full swing, and there are more than a couple teams in ECAC Hockey who are eyeing big returns on the heels of last season’s successes … or failures.
The non-Ivy programs have all played their season openers, and while the weather is still autumnal, these coaches have the leg up when it comes to early-season assessments: who’s feeling good, who needs to shake it off, what needs to be tweaked, switched, or overhauled.
The Saints are already 2-1-0 overall, having scored eight goals (including one empty-netter) and allowed six. The defending regular-season champs kept Clarkson, Providence and Massachusetts completely off the board on 14 power-play opportunities against, and did not take a major penalty among the 16 whistled against them. However, SLU put up a big 0-fer in the power-play department, failing to touch the twine in 11 opportunities.
Also notable, Joe Marsh & Co. started a different goaltender in each of the first three contests: last year’s number-one Alex Petizian defeated Clarkson with 27 stops on 29 shots; Justin Pesony frustrated the Friars on 34 of their 35 attempts, while sophomore Kain Tisi allowed three goals on 17 shots versus UMass in the sixth full game of his career. Third-year Casey Parenteau already has three goals to his credit, as well.
The Golden Knights already have a quartet of games under their belts, including a warm-up tilt with Canadian neighbor Acadia’s varsity team. Following the evenly played but disappointing loss at St. Lawrence to open the regular season, Clarkson and last season’s Dryden Award winner David Leggio shut down the opposition in 2-1 and 2-0 victories over the aforementioned Minutemen and Friars, respectively.
The Knights’ special teams are in the same situation as the Saints’, scoring only once in 15 man-advantages, while shutting out the other side in 11 shorthanded situations. With these low-scoring games, only Nick Dodge has multiple goals so far … with two.
The Colgate Raiders showed some firepower in two victories over Sacred Heart and Rochester Tech, potting a half-dozen in each game despite only managing a pedestrian two-for-12 on the power-play. In the season opener against SHU, workhorse Mark Dekanich was barely tested, facing only a dozen shots on net; both of the goals that beat him were of the power-play variety.
At the other end of the spectrum, the upstart RIT Tigers popped 42 pucks Deks’ way, scoring two on the advantage and three more the old-fashioned way in a 6-5 scoring stampede at Starr. Freshmen made some noise early on for the Raiders, as Brian Day flipped the red-light switch three times, and Francois Brisebois has four assists. Tyler Burton as four helpers and a goal as well, but we expect nothing less out of him.
In Quinnipiac’s only NCAA game so far, the Bobcats shut out Atlantic Hockey lightweight Bentley 3-0 on Tuesday night. It took a while for the ‘Cats to warm up, as over 36 minutes of play hit the books before QU dented the twine, but by the final buzzer it was all smiles on Rand Pecknold’s bench as transfer Peter Vetri notched his first game, win, and shutout in two years. The former Hockey East Rookie of the Year at UMass-Lowell stopped 21 shots for the honor, and Bryan Leitch (two goals) and Ben Nelson (two assists) tallied multi-point games.
Rensselaer started the season in rough fashion, despite devouring Bentley at the Houston Field House 4-0 in the season-opener. After that, the ‘Tute took it on the chin with 4-3 and 4-1 losses to Minnesota and Boston College, respectively, in the Ice Breaker Invitational in St. Paul.
In the former, the Gophers rallied with four straight scores, on the wings of three power-play goals in front of a hostile crowd and a WCHA officiating crew. (RPI was whistled for 11 penalties totaling 33 minutes, while Minnesota — which trailed for 50 minutes of the game — was only found guilty of five infractions for ten minutes. I wasn’t there; I can’t say what’s what … but I am skeptical, to say the least.)
Against BC, the Engineers again held the fort for 50 minutes, before three straight power-play goals late in the third period (and yet another night with four consecutive goals against) buried the Institute Icers. Mathias Lange stopped 24 of 28 against the Gophers, while Jordan Alford saw considerably more rubber, deflecting 44 Eagle shots.
RPI’s power play — this is becoming a troubling pattern — is one of 14, but the penalty-kill units have given up six goals in 25 tries. Junior forwards Andrei Uryadov and Matt Angers-Goulet each have two goals and an assist so far, while frosh Tyler Helfrich has chipped in with three assists.
The Union Dutchmen took a running start on the season, bopping visiting Ferris State on consecutive evenings 2-0 and 4-1. Justin Mrazek started both games, letting in just the one in 44 shots on net and earning himself ECAC Hockey Goalie of the Week honors. Senior Torren Delforte scored once each night, junior Matt Cook saw the red light once and added three assists, and the power play clicked nicely with two goals in ten opportunities.
The PK kept the Bulldogs off the scoresheet in 11 tries, and UC has a bye week of sorts (with an exhibition against Trois-Rivieres) before tilting lances against RPI in the Governor’s Cup on the 26th.
• Union star forward Josh Coyle is expected to miss this weekend’s exhibition with a sprained knee, which he sustained in the first game against Ferris State. Coach Nate Leaman assessed the injury as being worth a two-week rest, so last season’s 31-point scorer may or may not be game-ready by the Governor’s Cup.
• Still stuck on the Dutch, Leaman was pleased with the Jason Walters/Matt Cook combo, as well as the chemistry between Adam Presizniuk and Mario Valery-Trabucco in the first two games. If you’re in Schenectady this weekend, don’t be surprised to see highly-regarded Cory Milan between the pipes against the Canadians.
• Up at Clarkson, Philippe Paquet is still out, nursing an injury sustained a few weeks ago, said coach George Roll. The boss said that Paquet potentially hurt himself during dryland training, and will continue to rest up for “a couple more weeks.”
• Paul Kerins didn’t play in any of the Engineers’ first three games, but was seen skating in Minnesota during the Ice Breaker. It is unknown when he will return, after playing 34 games for Seth Appert and the ‘Tute last year.